Seahawks tight end Luke Willson said he wouldn't have called a pass in Super Bowl XLIX during a candid reliving of the final seconds of that game in an interview this week in Minnesota.
Thursday marks the three-year anniversary of the most infamous play in Seahawks history — the goal-line interception against New England in Super Bowl XLIX that cost them a chance to become the ninth NFL team to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
And though Seahawks fans might not want to relive the moment, tight end Luke Willson — who in his five years with the team has gained a reputation for speaking freely — brought it back to life this week as maybe only he can, recalling the play and its aftermath in a rather raucous interview with BarstoolRadio from the Super Bowl in Minnesota.
In a clip that includes some profanity (so be forewarned) Willson candidly admits he wouldn’t have called the play, which resulted in an interception by New England’s Malcolm Butler on a pass thrown by Russell Wilson from the 1-yard line.
“Me? I’m running the ball to Marshawn (Lynch),” said Willson, who was nonchalantly pulling pull tabs during the interview.
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Willson said he wasn’t mad at the play call but termed the interception “a terrible moment” and “probably the worst moment of my life.”
Willson also portrayed a scene of an angry locker room, saying players were “demanding answers” and that one player whom he wouldn’t name punched a locker and “shattered his hand.” A review of the Seahawks’ listed injuries when they returned for offseason workouts that spring didn’t reveal any significant hand injuries to big-name players.
Willson first talked of how Seattle got to the goal line — Jermaine Kearse’s circus catch for 33 yards to give the Seahawks the ball at the 5-yard line on a drive that began after the Patriots had taken a 28-24 lead.
Willson said his reaction after Kearse’s catch was that “we won this.”
Lynch then ran for four yards to give Seattle second-and-goal at the 1 on a play that snapped with 1:06 left.
Seattle had used two of its timeouts and, as coaches explained later, didn’t want to use another at that point with the potential of needing to run three more plays. Seeing the Patriots in a goal-line defense, coach Pete Carroll sided with calling a pass play, thinking that the worst that would happen is an incompletion that would stop the clock.
Willson, who was on the field for the play, recalled hearing the play call of “19 Force” — a pass play that included several options.
Willson said he thought the Seahawks would instead call “94 Buck,” which he said was the team’s basic Zone Read play — the play in which Wilson can hand off to a running back or keep it.
“Honestly, I don’t want this to come off like I’m mad at our coaching staff,” Willson said. “I see what they saw. Would I have done it? No. But there is some logic behind what they were doing, like statistically we had the look we are looking for. We’ve got man coverage, we’ve got the matchups. They are in goal-line defense.”
But as few Seattle fans need reminding, it didn’t work out the way the team planned, and Butler made an interception with 26 seconds left.
Willson was on the left side of the play and said he didn’t see the interception but added, “I could like hear guys celebrating that weren’t my teammates, and I was like, ‘Man.’ ”
Later in the locker room Willson said “people were demanding answers. What sucked is that there were no answers.”
The loss prevented the Seahawks from winning back-to-back Super Bowls, and they have not returned to the game.
How much the play has lingered over the team is a matter of opinion and debate. But its shadow undoubtedly hovered over offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell (Carroll and Bevell took responsibility for the play call). And after a 9-7 season in 2017, Bevell was fired after seven years in the job.
Willson is one of just 14 players from the 53-man roster from Super Bowl XLIX who was with the team in 2017, but he is an unrestricted free agent.
Warning: Video contains explicit language: